WASHINGTON, D.C. (March 6, 2014): Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler announced today that the Commission would be moving to ultimately do away with those joint sales agreements (JSAs) for which there are few or no public interest benefits. The Minority Media and Telecommunications Council applauds Wheeler’s initiative – particularly with respect to shared services agreements (SSAs), under which the “licensee” often holds nothing but a bare FCC license and lacks any meaningful authority over financing, staffing, or programming.
The Chairman’s announcement wisely leaves the door open for those instances in which the only way to save a struggling television station is with a “sidecar” JSA or SSA arrangement. [click to continue…]
WASHINGTON, D.C. (March 5, 2014): Last week, the Federal Communications Commission announced that the DISH Network won all 176 of the H Block spectrum licenses put up for bid during last month’s auction, paying $1.564 billion and outbidding all other qualified bidders, including Designated Entities (DEs). David Honig, President of the Minority Media and Telecommunications Council (MMTC), stated, “The H Block auction was successful in garnering revenue from DISH’s successful bid to help fund FirstNet. That is a laudable achievement, but the lack of MWBE participation in the auction reconfirms that improving the Designated Entity Program must be an FCC priority for future spectrum auctions.”
On February 25, MMTC issued a White Paper emphasizing the need to reform the FCC’s Designated Entity Program to facilitate increased entry by minority- and women-owned businesses (MWBEs) in the current and upcoming spectrum auctions. The failure of the FCC to generate qualified MWBEs for the H Block Auction points to the need for the FCC to craft auction rules that fulfill the mandate of Section 309(j) of the Communications Act to avoid excessive concentration of licenses, and to disseminate the licenses among a wide variety of applicants, including small businesses, rural telcos, and MWBEs, collectively called Designated Entities. [click to continue…]
WASHINGTON, D.C. (February 25, 2014): Today, the Minority Media and Telecommunications Council (MMTC) released a White Paper emphasizing the vital importance of minority participation in the FCC spectrum incentive auctions. The paper, titled “Digital Déjà vu: A Roadmap for Promoting Minority Ownership in the Wireless Industry,” focuses on the history and obstacles that have hampered the inclusion of minority- and women-owned business enterprises (MWBEs) as licensees and ultimately facilities-based spectrum owners. Focusing largely on the reform of the FCC’s Designated Entity (DE) program that was designed to promote the participation of MWBEs and rural telephone companies, the paper presents nine public policy recommendations to assist the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in facilitating measurable improvement in diverse participation in the upcoming spectrum auctions. The report emphasizes three key priority areas that deserve the FCC’s immediate attention. The first is the elimination of the Attributable Material Relationship Rule, the second is an increase in bidding credits to at least 40 percent, and the third is the incorporation of diversity and inclusion in the Commission’s public interest analysis of secondary market transactions.
At a press conference held today at the National Press Club, the White Paper’s co-authors, S. Jenell Trigg, Chair of Lerman Senter PLLC’s Intellectual Property and New Media and Technology Practice, and Jeneba Jalloh Ghatt, Managing Director the Ghatt Law Group, were joined by David Honig, President of MMTC; James Winston, Executive Director of the National Association of Black-Owned Broadcasters (NABOB); Melanie Campbell, President and CEO of the National Coalition for Black Civic Participation; The Honorable Cliff Stearns, former U.S. Congressman and Co-Chair of MMTC’s New Telecom and Internet Policy Task Force; and Bishop Steve Smith, Executive Director of the Public Policy Institute and Media & Telecom Project at the Rainbow PUSH Coalition. [click to continue…]
WASHINGTON, D.C. (February 24, 2014): The Minority Media and Telecommunications Council (MMTC) will release a White Paper titled “Digital Déjà Vu: A Road Map for Promoting Minority Ownership in the Wireless Industry” on Tuesday, February 25, 2014, at the National Press Club in Washington, DC. Co-authored by S. Jenell Trigg, Esq., Partner, Lerman Senter, and Jeneba Jalloh Ghatt, Esq., Managing Partner at the Ghatt Law Group, the paper details both historical and existing policy obstacles that have hampered the inclusion of minority- and women-owned business enterprises (MWBEs) as wireless spectrum licensees and ultimately as facilities-based spectrum owners. The paper presents nine policy recommendations aimed at enhancing increased minority participation and representation in the upcoming spectrum auctions with the highest priorities focused on reform to the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) Designated Entity Program, increased bidding credits, and inclusion of MWBEs in secondary market transactions.
With incentive and planned spectrum auctions projected to generate billions in revenue in the near future and MWBE ownership in the media and telecommunications industries at its lowest in decades, the White Paper appeals to the FCC and Congress to focus on minority spectrum ownership as a means to encourage competition and innovation in the wireless industry while spurring new economic development opportunities in underserved markets.
Date and Time: February 25, 2014, 10:00 am – 11:00 am EST
Location: The Bloomberg Room – 13th Floor, The National Press Club, 529 14th St, NW, Washington, DC [click to continue…]
WASHINGTON, D.C. (February 8, 2014): Verizon announced last week that it has sold $500 million of retail notes through 21 underwriters, 11 of which are minority- and woman-owned firms, and two of which are disabled veteran-owned firms. This is a significant opportunity for minority participation in corporate finance. The Minority Media and Telecommunications Council commends Verizon for once again demonstrating its strong commitment to diversity.
The $500 million in retail notes, sold in $25 increments, were designed to permit individual investors the opportunity to easily and affordably purchase Verizon debt, according to a statement released by the company. The notes will be listed on the New York Stock Exchange within the next thirty days. [click to continue…]
On behalf of MMTC’s Board of Directors and staff, we would like to thank you for your contribution to the success of our 2014 Broadband & Social Justice Summit, held on January 15-16, 2014, here in Washington, DC. Whether you participated in person or via our live webcast, your support helps to fulfill MMTC’s mission to empower minorities and underserved communities to succeed in the media, digital media, and telecom sectors.
Links to Summit Photos and Videos Now Available
All Summit sessions were videotaped and are now available online. Please enjoy these links to the hundreds of photos and videos of all sessions of the Summit and share them with your friends and colleagues: http://mmtconline.org/photo-galleries/ and http://mmtconline.org/2014-bbsj-summit-videos/. [click to continue…]
The Minority Media and Telecommunications Council’s 5th Annual Broadband and Social Justice Policy Summit recently convened leaders from the private and public sectors to provide best practices and future trends for bringing Digital Learning and STEM education initiatives into the classroom. Jim Shelton, acting U.S. Department of Education Deputy Secretary, opened the session with a keynote, where he highlighted the nation’s rapid changing landscape, challenges and opportunities in transforming learning, and the pervasive opportunity gap that plagues our nation. He concluded by laying out the President’s bold ConnectED initiative that aims to bring high-speed Internet to 99 percent of students.
The session, “No Broadband Left Behind: Empowering Communities of Color to Excel through Digital Education and STEM,” featured Microsoft, Wilco Electronic Systems, the National Telecommunications Information Administration (NTIA), Latinos in Social Media (LATISM), Social Sector Innovation, LLC, and students from the Howard University Middle School of Math & Science to share strategies to improve digital learning and STEM education, particularly in underserved communities and in classrooms.
Students from Howard University Middle School conducted a special presentation showcasing their latest technological innovations, mobile apps designed to address the national crises predominantly affecting communities of color. [click to continue…]
America continues to be plagued by a widening partisan gridlock emanating in and out the chambers of the United States Congress. Despite the seeming unlikelihood of Congress’ situation improving anytime soon, two former Congressmen believe that things can and will change in their old stomping grounds. During the Congressional Luncheon at MMTC’s Fifth Annual Broadband and Social Justice Summit, which fell on Dr. Martin Luther King’s birthday, former Congressmen and New Internet and Telecom Act Taskforce Co-Chairs Hon. Edolphus “Ed” Towns (D-NY) and Hon. Clifford “Cliff” Stearns (R-FL) led the charge for reconciliation while setting the example on what it takes to put differences aside and work together.
The former congressmen are also hopeful that changes can continue to happen in the powerful committees with jurisdiction over the media and telecom industries. These industries, which represent one-sixth of the U.S. economy, kept the nation’s gross domestic product afloat during the worst of the Great Recession. Unfortunately, the industries still lack significant minority and women inclusion in enterprise ownership, employment, and high-level management. [click to continue…]
In communications policy debates in Washington, it is all too easy to get caught up in business and technical jargon, only to lose sight of the individuals—the consumers—who are impacted. Verizon Senior Vice President for Public Policy, Craig Silliman, spoke to this during a panel entitled “Broadband: The Backbone of the New Economy” at MMTC’s 2014 Broadband and Social Justice Summit, on January 16 (see the remarks here at 34:49)
“We talk about infrastructure and investments, but what it comes down to is communities and what broadband does,” he said. Silliman noted three key areas in which mobility and cloud computing play an integral role: healthcare, energy, and education.
Silliman said most healthcare spending still focuses on managing illnesses, as opposed to monitoring to prevent illness. Citing enormous investments currently made for emergency rooms and to treat heart disease, asthma and diabetes, Silliman emphasized the potential for broadband to enable patients to use broadband and technology to manage the “ebbs and flows” of glucose levels, which can actually help prevent a diabetic incident. Health IT technologies also allow patients to have access to health care professionals who can monitor their vital statistics remotely, Silliman said, reducing the need for patients to have physical proximity to a hospital. [click to continue…]
WASHINGTON, D.C. (January 30, 2014): Today the Federal Communications Commission, under the leadership of Chairman Tom Wheeler, announced four major initiatives deeply impacting underserved consumers: IP technology transition beta tests, enhanced public safety through text-to-911, DTV spectrum incentive auctions, and FCC process reform. The urgency of achieving universal broadband access, adoption, and proficiency for minorities and underserved communities is a major pillar of each of these initiatives.
MMTC has a long history of engagement with the Commission on these issues, and we commend and strongly support Chairman Wheeler and the Commission for taking these much-needed actions today. [click to continue…]